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Guy Behind the Guy: Soak it In

Sunday, 04.26.2009 / 12:01 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Mike Sundheim
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Guy Behind the Guy: Soak it In
Mike Sundheim
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If our two-year absence from the Stanley Cup playoffs taught me nothing else, I learned to enjoy every moment. I enjoy the every-day interactions between teammates and the sudden increase in crowd noise on a scoring chance. I store in my memory bank the sounds of fans at the airport at 1 a.m. and the buzz of the media in the locker room after a morning skate. In a series entirely too close for predictions, the only things I know for sure about today is that fans will start arriving in our parking lots when they open at 2:30 p.m., and that this building will be jam-packed and roaring when the puck drops at 7:30. Those facts alone are enough to make my arm hairs stand on end, let alone the possibility that we may witness something like what we saw at the end of Game 4 here.

So soak those moments in. Watch the cars with flags flying roll into the lots. Smell the barbecue cooking in the lots. Cheer a little kid doing his best Cam Ward impression in a street hockey game. I know I'll be out there at some point tonight, as Kyle and I make our pre-game rounds outside before every playoff game. I'll meet some friends, grab a brat and watch some people play cornhole. And then we'll wind our way back inside, through a maze of blaring stereos and tailgating chairs.

In the RBC Center, the crowd will cheer when warmups begin, and build to a crescendo as Steve Smith cranks the Hurricane Warning siren to welcome the Canes to the ice for the game. By the time Pete Soto's crew plays a certain song by Stryper right before the puck drop, a nationwide audience will be seeing the special atmosphere we enjoy this time of year around here.

We don't know whether we will still doing this in June or not, but we may as well enjoy every second of it along the way.

Media Alert: Along this same theme, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey included an article today about the development of our hockey market, with a special emphasis on the tailgating atmosphere.

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